Month: December 2018

2018-19 CFB Bowl Picks

TCU (pick) over Cal – 4u

This will be far from the prettiest game with two offenses that have been inept for most of the year and defenses that are Top 20 caliber. It’s not the only reason, but if I had to quickly sum up the reason to take the Frogs here, it’s Jalen Reagor.

In a game with a total currently hovering around 40, one or two big plays could make the difference. It’s like an NFL game, only with significantly less talent.

Reagor was productive in the first half of the season, but has really hit his stride on the back nine. He’s had a receiving TD in seven straight games. He’s had a reception of over 30 yards in the last six. His total receiving stat line for the last six games: 35 catches, 629 yards (18.0 YPC), and 6 TDs. The last two games, it finally occurred to Sonny Cumbie that maybe they should run the ball with Reagor as well. He’s had 7 carries for 153 yards and 2 TDs.

Cal doesn’t have that guy. That’s why they’ve only eclipsed 17 points twice since September. Those two outings came against Oregon State and Colorado. Oregon State is one of the worst defenses in the FBS and didn’t hold a single FBS team under 34 points. In the Colorado game, they scored two defensive TDs and had other scoring drives of 8, 29, and 34 yards.

If you’re looking for a reason this could go sideways: special teams. The Frogs are among the worst in the country. Cal’s kicker isn’t anything to write home about, but he’s better than TCU’s and Cal’s punter has the ability to flip the field on his own.

Troy (+3) over Buffalo – 3u
Troy +120 – 1u

I guess a big part of this is feel. To me, Buffalo peaked back in September. They’ve had some blowouts over the worst of the MAC since then, but have laid some big eggs since then in their bigger games. They got steamrolled by Army at home, even more steamrolled at Ohio, and then blew a 19-point, late third quarter lead against NIU in the MAC championship.

Troy led with the egg, a 36-point opening week loss against Boise. Since then, they won at Nebraska, won a huge road game at Georgia Southern, and won comfortably over Sun Belt West champ ULL, who has an explosive passing offense (typically Buffalo’s biggest advantage). Of course they lost to App State to finish the regular season, but App State is App State.

I would expect Troy to be motivated after the AD survived the coaching carousel without losing Neal Brown to a Power 5 program. It’s insane to me Brown hasn’t been hired because he’s one of the best coaches at the G5 level. And he also happens to be 2-0 in bowl games, beating North Texas by 20 last year, and beating veteran coach Frank Solich in Brown’s bowl debut.

It’s Lance Leipold’s first time dealing with the bowl schedule and he has to go face Troy in Alabama.

Army (-3) over Houston – 3u

Two big reasons to like Army here: no Ed Oliver and no D’Eriq King for Houston. Oliver might be the best player in Houston football history and they had a guy win the Heisman once. Other programs might be able to minimize the impact of losing an All-American DT, but it’s clear Houston isn’t one of them.

Oliver was fully healthy the first half of the season. He played parts of five quarters in the second half of the season. Here’s Houston’s run defense in the first six games compared to the last six:

First 6 games: 116 YPG, 2.8 YPC, 9 TDs

Last 6 games: 279 YPG, 5.5 YPC, 25 TDs

Furthermore, despite only playing about 7.25 games, Oliver still leads the team in TFLs and is just a half tackle behind the leader in run stuffs.

That all seems pretty important against a team that ranks second in the country with 297 rushing yards per game.

In case you’re unaware, D’Eriq King is Houston’s QB and the unofficial mayor of Electric City.

Image result for electric city the office

King accounted for 3,730 yards of offense, 50 TDs, and just 6 turnovers in his 10+ games of action. His replacement – freshman Clayton Tune – has been okay, but has shown himself to be inaccurate so far and not quite as dynamic of a runner as King.

Army’s faced quite a few spread, pass-happy offenses this year (Oklahoma, Buffalo, Miami (OH), Hawaii, Liberty, SJSU) and has held them to an average of 17 points per game. Army’s defense isn’t elite, but the ball control of the offense helps them by keeping the opposing offenses out of a rhythm.

Jeff Monken is 2-0 in bowl games, beating a really good San Diego State team last year. Major Applewhite is 0-2, losing by 24 as a 3.5 point favorite and by 6 as a 2.5 point favorite.

Wisconsin (+4) over Miami – 3u
Wisconsin +165 – 1u

Obviously the teams are a little bit different (worse), but I mean, they just played in the Orange Bowl last year. The one that’s played in Miami. And Wisconsin won by 10 points. A year later they meet again and all the Florida boys are heading up to play a physical Wisconsin team in New York City during the dead of winter.

Miami’s defense is still very good, but keep in mind that they haven’t played one S&P+ Top 40 team since they got rolled in Week 1 by LSU. And Wisconsin can run on anybody and they do it efficiently. The Badgers average 268 rushing yards per game, they’ve only been held under 200 twice all year, and their lowest YPC in a single game is 4.7. The national AVERAGE is 5.2 YPC.

The passing game isn’t nearly as bad as its made out to be. It’s still decidedly not good and Hornibrook has his problems, but that didn’t stop him from throwing for 258 yards and 4 TDs against the Canes last year.

Miami’s passing game is actually marginally worse and won’t be helped by the fact that their best WR – Jeff Thomas – decided to leave the team and transfer. The running game started out really well this year – aside from the LSU game – but they’ve fallen off since September. The offense as a whole as only eclipsed 350 total yards once since the calendar turned to October.

Michigan State (+3) over Oregon – 2u
Michigan State +135 – 1u

Consider this a bet on Mark Dantonio and an elite defense. Dantonio has won five of his last six bowl games, four of them as an underdog, and four of them with spreads of three points or less. I’d say this is a pretty good spot for him.

On the flip side, the Ducks are 0-3 SU, 0-3 ATS their last three bowl games. They were favorites in all of them. They failed to cover the spread by an average of 19.3 PPG.

And yes, the MSU offense has been a trainwreck, but that defense can keep them in any game. They haven’t given up more than 30 since Week 1. They haven’t given up 400 yards of offense since Week 2. Only one team has run effectively and efficiently against them all year. They’ve held six of their last seven opponents under 20 points on offense and that includes Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Nebraska, and Maryland. They’re pretty good.

The offense has been garbage, especially after some injuries. However, I can’t help but think they won’t be improved after time for some of their many injured players to heal and 15 bowl practices with a really good coaching staff.

Louisiana Tech (+110) over HAWAII – 2u

Hawaii essentially can only win one way and that’s by throwing for a ton of yards. No one has completely shut down their passing game, but that’s not really necessary. You just have to make them work for it. They average about 50 yards less per game when they lose and one less yard per attempt.

And that’s exactly what LA Tech can do. They haven’t given up 300 yards of passing yards once this season. Their opponents average less than 200 yards. They only give up 6.2 YPA, which is good enough to be Top 25 in the country.

Wake Forest (+5) over Memphis – 2u
Wake Forest +180 – 1u

I’m a big Dave Clawson guy, always have been.  I also believe his run defense has greatly improved over the second half of the season and that’s a big key against Darrell Henderson.

But if you’re a trends guy, this game’s for you. Here’s how each team has fared ATS on the road and at home this year

Memphis at home: +6.3 points per game ATS
Memphis on the road: -11.1 points per game ATS

Wake at home: -12.6 points per game ATS
Wake on the road: +19.5 points per game ATS

It’s not a home game for either, but obviously this signifies that Wake is a much better team playing away from their home stadium.

Furthermore, it’s a limited sample size, but bowl performances by each HC at their current schools:

Dave Clawson: 2-0, +9.0 points per game ATS
Mike Norvell: 0-2, -9.0 points per game ATS

Northern Illinois (+3, -125) over UAB – 2u
NIU +120 – 1u

If you’re a big fan of people getting sacked, buddy, this is a game for you. These are two of the Top 5 teams in sack rate this year. You are not going to see elite QB play.

Reasons I like NIU a little more in this one:

  1. They have a better chance to run the ball successfully
  2. I trust Marcus Childers to handle pressure better and make more plays with his legs than whoever ends up taking snaps for UAB
  3. NIU’s been more regularly tested by decent teams this year than UAB

Does Rod Carey’s 0-5 bowl record scare me a little bit? Yes, yes it does. In his defense, they’ve played some really good teams. My worries are also a little bit soothed by Bill Clark losing his only bowl game by 35.

Western Michigan (+12) over BYU – 2u
WMU +375 – 0.5u

This is largely based in analytical research, but it’s aided by the fact that Corbin Kaufusi isn’t playing. Corbin has 8.5 sacks this year. The next closest on BYU’s roster has 2.0. His brother Isaiah – the third leading tackler (Corbin is second) – sounds pretty doubtful based on what Kalani Sitake had to say on Tuesday. It also seems like WMU is being docked for losing their starting QB, but I’ve watched a lot of Kaleb Eleby the last couple weeks and he’s more than capable of running the show.

UCF (+7.5) over LSU – 1u
UCF +250 – 0.5u

UCF is pretty good at winning games, in case you haven’t heard.

YTD: 72-68 (+8.4u)

 

2018 CFB Season Total Recap

Well it wasn’t quite the banner year of 2017, but I’m happy to report that we once again turned a profit this year with the season win totals. Much like the weekly picks, the biggest plays were horrendous, but a steady middle carried us to the land of green.

The end result: 12-9-2, +3.2*

Here’s the pick-by-pick result with a little commentary on each of them:

5*

FAU over 8.5 (-120) – LOSS (-6*)

Just a really disappointing season for the Owls and an embarrassing bet for yours truly. FAU wasn’t able to repeat the total domination of the C-USA again this year. A couple instances of poor capping by myself here. For one, I really regretted not betting the over with the boys of Boca last year and let that bleed over into my evaluation this year. The C-USA was also one of the last conferences I analyzed and in the back of my head I knew I hadn’t had a 5* play and kind of wanted one for blog purposes and forced it a bit here. Just a bad bet by me and a lesson to remember next year.

4*

ECU under 3.5 (-130) – WIN (+4*)

I got a little nervous when the Pirates cleaned UNC’s clock in Week 2, but alas, they still ended up 3-9 with a bunch of blowout losses. Scottie Montgomery deservedly was fired after the season.

Florida State over 8 (-125) – LOSS (-5*)

This started horribly with that opening Monday night loss to VT at home and never got that much better. Although I did see a glimmer of hope after Bobby Petrino gifted them a win at Louisville and the Noles came out hot against Miami the next week. A win against the Canes would’ve gotten them to 4-2. FSU let that one get away and then got trounced four times in the second half of the season. If I take them again next year, somebody just take the blog away from me.

Maryland over 5 (-145) – PUSH (0*)

Better than a loss, but a two-point loss to Indiana and a one-point loss to Ohio State on a failed two-point conversion during the last three weeks makes this feel like a loser. Of course I bet this before all the Durkin stuff happened, so I would’ve absolutely taken a push if offered the opportunity back in late August.

3*

Buffalo over 6.5 (-140) – WIN (+3*)

The Bulls went 10-2 and nearly won the MAC. One of the easiest wins of the year.

CMU over 4.5 (+120) – LOSS (-3*)

Another colossal failure. My mantra of “John Bonamego just wins football games” turned out to be wildly inaccurate as the Chips went 1-11 and my boy Bonamego got his walking papers. We’ll always have 2017, John-Boy.

Duke over 6 (-135) – WIN (+3*)

Pretty much your typical Blue Devils season. They were great in the underdog role and laid some massive eggs as the favorite. Fortunately, they started 4-0 and did enough in ACC play to scratch out seven wins.

Florida over 8 (+110) – WIN (+3.3*)

Yeah, I had a lot of doubts when the Gators lost to Kentucky for the first time in a thousand years during Week 2. Luckily they responded by winning five straight and adding three more to cap the season. As always, always take the over with a Mullen team. See you next year, Dan.

Illinois under 4 (-140) – PUSH (0*)

They somehow blew the doors off Minnesota in the first week of November to get this to a push. The Gophers beat Wisconsin and Minnesota by a combined 53 points in the course of the next three weeks. I’m not sure why I keep trying to predict what’s going to happen in this sport.

Iowa over 7.5 (even) – WIN (+3*)

In a shocking turn of events, a Kirk Ferentz team went 8-4. It could’ve been much better if the Hawks were a little better in late-game situations, but you can’t fight fate. And fate says that Iowa has to go 8-4.

LSU under 7 (-110) – LOSS (-3.3*)

I apologize to Coach O and Steve Ensminger for doubting them, although I’ve still got my eye on you, Ensminger.

Michigan State over 8.5 (-125) – LOSS (-3.75*)

If you would’ve told me at the start of the year that the Spartans would end up 2nd in Defensive S&P+, I probably would’ve made this a 4 or 5 star bet. That’s what MSU did and yet, they still end up 7-5. Why? The offense ranks 114th. WOOF. I don’t know what happened to Brian Lewerke, but he regressed into one of the league’s worst QBs this season and the running game was non-existent.

Nebraska under 6.5 (+110) – WIN (+3.3*)

I needed the Huskers to lose six games and…they started 0-6. Good thing, too, because they improved quite a bit the second half of the season. We’ll see what the total is next year, but I’m sure the over will be popular.

Ole Miss under 6 (-105) – WIN (+3*)

Special thanks to the Rebels for finishing the season 0-5. Your service did not go unnoticed. Extra thanks to the defense, who didn’t hold a single SEC team under 30 points.

Pitt over 5 (-140) – WIN (+3*)

YOUR 2018 ACC COASTAL DIVISION CHAMPION PITT PANTHERS.

Temple over 6.5 (-125) – WIN (+3*)

Talk about a damn rollercoaster. The Owls opened up the year with home losses to FCS Villanova and Temple. I was ready to throw in the towel and was even cheering for them to sacrifice themselves and lose to Buffalo and Maryland to help out my other bets. But they beat Maryland on their way to winning eight of ten to finish the year. Their only other losses were at UCF and BC. Once again, a change at QB turned the Temple season around.

Tennessee under 5.5 (-110) – WIN (+3*)

The Vols made me nervous a little bit. They were 5-5 with two weeks to go and two winnable games on the schedule. Thankfully, they lost those games by a combined 58 and the ticket cashes. I’m still not sure how to feel about the Jeremy Pruitt era in Knoxville. They showed flashes this year, but ultimately their defense failed them, which is Pruitt’s expertise.

Texas under 8.5 (+125) – LOSS (-3*)

It ends up being a loss, as the Longhorns went 9-3, but they did win six one-score games this year. Chances are you’ll find me on the under once again next year.

UCLA over 5.5 (+105) – LOSS (-3*)

The 0-5 start ended the dream quickly. Chipper needs his guys.

UMass over 5.5 (-120) – LOSS (-3.6*)

I’d make the excuse that Andrew Ford got hurt, but Ross Comis was actually quite good and perhaps even better than Ford. The truth is that the defense was a total trainwreck.

UNC under 5.5 (+125) – WIN (+3.75*)

Nothing sweeter than winning a plus-money total by 3.5 games. The Heels lost some close games, but they were truly awful this year. But hey! Good news UNC fans! You get your old coach back! And I mean old. Like 67 years old. The one who’s been spewing nonsense on ESPN for the last five years and peaked as a coach a decade ago. Congrats!

Utah State over 7.5 (-115) – WIN (+3*)

The Aggies went 10-2 and the only losses were close ones on the road against Michigan State and Boise. Not bad.

Wyoming over 6.5 (-150) – LOSS (-4.5*)

The Cowboys ended up 6-6. The schedule was tougher than anticipated, as they ended up facing five Top-30 teams, which they went 0-5 against. The loss that was the backbreaker was a 17-13 defeat to Hawaii. Unfortunately, their lack of offense is probably the reason they’ll watch bowl season from home, despite being eligible.

2018-19 Bowl Rankings: Watchability

An annual tradition. I think overall it’s a pretty good slate this year. Of course we’ll make it better with some bets at some point.

39. Tulane vs. UL-Lafayette
AutoNation Cure Bowl
2:30 p.m. ET, CBSSN, Dec. 15
Orlando

I’m not telling you this is a great game, but the fact it’s last means there’s nothing truly awful on the bowl slate. ULL has a pretty good offense. Tulane has a decent defense. It could be worse.

38. Georgia Southern vs. Eastern Michigan
Raycom Media Camellia Bowl
5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 15
Montgomery, AL

EMU insists on playing nothing but close games, so it should at least be competitive.

37. FIU vs. Toledo
Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl
12:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 21
Nassau, Bahamas

Toledo’s got a great offense. It’s a Friday afternoon in the Bahamas before a long Christmas weekend.

36. Western Michigan vs. BYU
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
4 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 21
Boise, ID

This should probably be lower, but the game will be on when you get home from work on that same Friday heading into Christmas weekend.

35. Arkansas State vs. Nevada
NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl 
1:15 p.m. ET, CBSSN, Dec. 29
Tucson, AZ

Nevada kind of fizzled at the end, but Justice Hansen vs. Ty Gangi is an underrated QB matchup.

34. Louisiana Tech vs. Hawaii
SoFi Hawai’i Bowl

10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 22
Honolulu

It’s not on Christmas Eve because the NFL ruins everything, but it’s still a Saturday night in Hawaii and the home team is involved.

33. Marshall vs. South Florida
Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl

8 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 20
Tampa, FL

This would be a better matchup in years past, but it’s still something to satisfy your Thursday Night Football needs with no NFL game that week.

32. UAB vs. Northern Illinois
Cheribundi Boca Raton Bowl

7 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 18
Boca Raton, FL

Two great defenses doing battle in Boca. You should watch for NIU DE Sutton Smith alone.

31. Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech
Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman

Noon ET, ESPN, Dec. 31
Annapolis, MD

Virginia Tech might be one of my least favorite teams to watch, but Cinci has had a great year and it’d be cool to see them finish it with a win over a Power 5 team.

30. Temple vs. Duke
Walk-On’s Independence Bowl

1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 27
Shreveport, LA

This is probably too high for a Thursday afternoon game in Shreveport, but both teams have occasional outbursts on offense.

29. Minnesota vs. Georgia Tech
Quick Lane Bowl

5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 26
Detroit

Tough to sell this one, but it should be pretty close. And it won’t last long. Lotta running plays. Probably some talk about oars in water. Paul Johnson’s last game.

28. Baylor vs. Vanderbilt
Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl

9 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 27
Houston

This is probably too high. But not for nothing, both teams have reason to be pretty excited just to make it.

27. South Carolina vs. Virginia
Belk Bowl

Noon ET, ABC, Dec. 29
Charlotte, NC

I guess the appeal here is you’ve got a team from Virginia, a team from South Carolina, and they’re playing in North Carolina. Bryce Perkins is fun. Everybody likes Deebo.

26. Memphis vs. Wake Forest
Jared Birmingham Bowl

Noon ET, ESPN, Dec. 22
Birmingham, AL

This is probably too low if you’re one of those people that enjoys a ton of offense and optional defense. Because that’s what this is gonna be.

25. Houston vs. Army
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl

3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 22
Fort Worth, TX

This would be a lot more fun if we were able to watch and see what Ed Oliver could do against the nation’s best option attack. But all is not lost. D’Eriq King and the Houston offense should provide enough entertainment.

24. San Diego State vs. Ohio
DXL Frisco Bowl

8 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 19
Frisco, TX

Two of the most consistent Group of 5 programs doing battle on a Wednesday night in Frisco. What more could you ask for? Juwan Washington is back and that Ohio defense is vulnerable. Ohio’s got their own pair of dominant backs and a 5’9″ leading receiver named Papi.

23. Buffalo vs. Troy
Dollar General Bowl

7 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 22
Mobile, AL

We’ll see if Neal Brown is still the Troy HC by then, but another good Group of 5 matchup. The men of Troy have a stellar defense and they’ll be pitted up against a great MAC offense.

22. Middle Tennessee vs Appalachian State
R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl
9 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 15
New Orleans

Brent Stockstill vs. Zac Thomas to cap off the first day of bowls.

21. California vs. TCU
Cheez-It Bowl

9 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 26
Phoenix

Well, you’re not going to get a bunch of scoring. Part of that is poor offense, but a lot has to do with two really good defenses. With the game being in Phoenix, we could have multiple Gary Patterson wardrobe changes. You should at least tune in to watch Jalen Raegor because Jalen Raegor is a freak show.

20. Miami vs. Wisconsin
New Era Pinstripe Bowl

5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 27
New York

It’s last year’s Orange Bowl, only the teams are worse, and somehow the QBs have regressed. Quite the sell, I know.

19. Northwestern vs. Utah
San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl

7 p.m. ET, FS1, Dec. 31
San Diego

They’d probably get more viewers if they just let Pat Fitzgerald and Kyle Whittingham mud wrestle at mid-field, but I guess we’ll settle for the football. You can watch just to form a half-baked opinion on Clayton Thorson before the draft.

18. NC State vs. Texas A&M
TaxSlayer Gator Bowl

7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 31
Jacksonville

I’m sure for some of you this will be pre-game material before you go sin all over the city for NYE. Personally, it’ll be the main attraction as I sin on my couch. Maybe the greatest thing about reaching my late-20s was no longer feeling the pressure to wildly overpay for everything associated with NYE.

17. Stanford vs. Pittsburgh
Hyundai Sun Bowl

2 p.m. ET, CBS, Dec. 31
El Paso, TX

It just occurred to me that Bryce Love probably won’t play, but whatever. You can still watch JJAW. Pitt will probably do some wild Pitt things, commit a bunch of penalties and whatnot.

16. Boston College vs. Boise State
SERVPRO First Responder Bowl 

1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 26
Dallas

I don’t know why this intrigues me so much, but it does for some reason. Maybe it’s Boise going against a Power 5 team. Maybe it’s AJ Dillon. Maybe it’s because this game will be my only reprieve from work the day after Christmas. It’s definitely that one.

15. Michigan State vs. Oregon
Redbox Bowl

3 p.m. ET, Fox, Dec. 31
Santa Clara

Yeah this is definitely too high, but it’s too late to go back now.

14. Kentucky vs. Penn State
VRBO Citrus Bowl

1 p.m. ET, ABC, Jan. 1
Orlando

There’s a lot of fun players in this game, but I’m not sure it’ll really produce much scoring. These are two great defenses. If Kentucky gets a little creative with the playbook, this might end up being one of the better games. If they don’t, this game might end up like 17-12 and it’s gonna suck.

13. Purdue vs. Auburn
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

1:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 28
Nashville

I can’t imagine Auburn is fired up to play in the Music City Bowl, especially with all of the drama surrounding Gus Malzahn right now.

12. North Texas vs. Utah State
New Mexico Bowl

2 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 15
Albuquerque

Jordan Love. Mason Fine. Opening Day.

11. Mississippi State vs. Iowa
Outback Bowl

Noon ET, ESPN2, Jan. 1
Tampa

Mississippi State has been peaking at the end of the year. Iowa is playing in what I have to imagine is their 10th straight Outback Bowl. Hard not to love any bowl game that has mascots like this:

1592.jpg

#TeamBloominOnion

10. Fresno State vs. Arizona State
Mitsubishi Motors Las Vegas Bowl

3:30 p.m. ET, ABC, Dec. 15
Las Vegas

I’m excited to watch the Bulldogs try to take down a Power 5 team after they couldn’t through at Minnesota early in the year. Plus, we get Herm and N’Keal Harry (please play, N’Keal).

9. LSU vs. UCF
PlayStation Fiesta Bowl

1 p.m. ET, ESPN, Jan. 1
Glendale, AZ

UCF vs. the SEC, part two. It’s not as exciting as last year because it’s not as fresh and McKenzie Milton won’t be playing, but it’ll certainly generate some conversation. If UCF wins, I’m sure the excuses will be locked and loaded again for SEC nation.

8. Florida vs. Michigan
Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl

Noon ET, ESPN, Dec. 29
Atlanta

It’s not peak Florida vs. Michigan, but it’s still a heavyweight matchup. Not a bad warmup to the playoffs. Maybe Harbaugh can redeem himself for that colossal failure against South Carolina last year.

7. Texas vs. Georgia
Allstate Sugar Bowl

8:45 p.m. ET, ESPN, Jan. 1
New Orleans

This game could end up being a blowout, but if it doesn’t, we’ve got some real strong “TEXAS IS BACK, FOLKS” potential.

6. Iowa State vs. Washington State
Valero Alamo Bowl

9 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 28
San Antonio

If you’ve read this blog before, you know the Alamo Bowl has a special place in my heart. This year it’s also occurring on a Friday night. Maybe neither of these teams is the most exciting, but there is a high chance for things to get weird with Leach, the Minshew mustache, and Iowa State’s 12 quarterbacks.

5. West Virginia vs. Syracuse
Camping World Bowl

5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 28
Orlando

Points.

4. Missouri vs. Oklahoma State
AutoZone Liberty Bowl

3:45 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 31
Memphis

Points.

3. Washington vs. Ohio State
Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual

5 p.m. ET, ESPN, Jan. 1
Pasadena

Prestige.

2. Clemson vs. Notre Dame
College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic 

4 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 29
Arlington

Playoffs.

1. Alabama vs. Oklahoma
College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl

8 p.m. ET, ESPN, Dec. 29
Miami

Playoffs.